Entrepreneurial Care Leaver Wows Dragons for Business Investment

CAKE-BAKING Sasha, 25, from Pickering, wowed our panel of friendly Board member dragons yesterday when she pitched her idea for a business before them.

The Meet the Dragons style event came about when Sasha, a former North Yorkshire care leaver, who has always wanted to set up her own business, turned to our accountable body the County Council for help.

Inspired by her gran, Sasha, who has a five year old son Alfie, is hoping to run “the ultimate sweet-treats” artisan business called Nula’s Fancies, from a specially bespoke van travelling around markets and festivals. Using locally sourced, organic products she will be selling homemade American style pancakes, cakes, bakes, pastries and hot and cold drinks. In the long run she dreams of turning it into a franchise to help care leavers in the industry.

Realising there are others like Sasha with entrepreneurial ideas, the Council’s new Leaving Care Opportunities Team, pressed on with finding help and joined forces with ourselves to find mentors in the local business community.

It was decided that following the care leavers pitch of their business ideas, the mentors offer their skills and expertise to make sure their idea or business is viable, support them to create a business plan and apply for funding if required. The first of these events was held at Gray’s Court Hotel, York on Monday 05 March.

Sasha said: “I am doing this for my little boy and to show him that you can make a success of your life no matter what. I am so happy to have the support of the dragons with their advice and contacts. The thought of presenting to them was nerve-racking but I prepared myself well. Most of all I want to tell everyone like myself to keep going and never give up.”

Both ourselves and the County Council hope the event will encourage other care leavers who are thinking of setting up their own business, but are not sure where to go for help. It is offering a discretionary payment of up to £2,500 per applicant for start-up costs, in consultation with mentors, for ideas that are taken forward.

“As a local authority, acting as corporate parents we are here to help these young people achieve in a way that works for them,” said Stuart Carlton, Director of the Children and Young People’s Service who attended the event. “Within just half an hour it became clear that the Dragons questions and advice was invaluable. With their further mentoring, who knows what else can be achieved. With the right support, the sky is the limit.”

The Dragons, all board members here at the LEP are providing their support as part of our work helping to unlock growth in the local economy and to help everyone in the area’s workforce reach their full career potential.

Dr Ruth Smith Chair of the LEPs Skills and Employability Board, who runs two businesses specialising in leadership development and executive coaching, said: “A real ambition of the LEP is that everyone, whatever their background should have the opportunity to be the very best they can in their working lives. It is important for those who have faced significant obstacles to receive the support they need to achieve their ambitions. Inspiring the next generation is one way to do this and Sasha is a brilliant guiding light.”

Other Dragons from the Local Enterprise Partnership on the panel are David Dickson, a chartered accountant and business angel; Colin Mellors OBE, former pro-vice-chancellor at the University of York, and Jane Lady Gibson who started the consultancy Joined Up North and is founding chair of Make It York.